If the margaritas served at your favorite watering hole always seem to taste better than the ones you make at home, maybe it’s not just the ingredients or your technique — it could also be the equipment you’re using. Whether they’re making the cocktail classic or frozen, mixologists have their own “secret weapon” bar kits that include the best tools to help them get the job done right. We talked to experts to get the 411 on the best gear for your margs, whether you’re drinking them for Cinco de Mayo or year-round.
Meet the margarita experts
“The margarita is part of the cocktail family known as daisies, which means it’s a sour cocktail whose sweetness comes from a liqueur, which in this case is Cointreau,” Ivy Mix told HuffPost. Mix, author of “Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture and Cocktails,” owns Latin cocktail bar Leyenda and wine and spirits shop Fiasco!, both in Brooklyn, New York. “Most booze history is a little blurry, because — surprise— people were drinking, but the margarita probably came from northern Mexico or Texas before it became popularized in America. When made correctly, it’s the most delicious drink in the world,” she said.
“Everybody knows the marg — it’s a signature cocktail that’s been everywhere from weddings to family parties to taco Tuesdays,” Anali Martinez Gonzalez, the tastemaker known as The Nueva Latina, told HuffPost.
“It was the first cocktail I ever learned to make, when I was 18 years old,” mixologist and agave spirits specialist Carlos Ruiz told HuffPost. “From that day on, it was my favorite cocktail.”
Maxwell Reis is beverage director at Los Angeles’ Gracias Madre, where they often sell more than 1,000 margaritas a day, including a $100 version made with vintage spirits and served in a 1960s-era glass. “Man, I love a marg,” he told HuffPost. “Nobody orders one when they’re in a bad mood, and you feel good when you have one in your hand. It’s a joyous cocktail.”
Here are tools that help these experts make the perfect margarita.
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A good paring knife
A solid juicer
Reis keeps two jiggers behind the bar, both sourced from Cocktail Kingdom. First (on the left) is a Leopold jigger, starting at $19. Because it’s short and round, it can be easier to wield. On the right, you'll see a Japanese jigger , starting at $8, which is elongated and precise.
Whichever type you buy, be sure to use it every time, he said: “Especially with a simple cocktail like this, there’s nothing hide behind, so you need precision to keep your components well-balanced.”
A shaker (conventional or unconventional)
A good strainer
Great ice cubes
Whether a marg is served frozen or on the rocks, the perfect ice cube is an essential component. “I’ve done the comparisons, and the best ice I can find anywhere is from the 7-Eleven at the corner of Lamar and 51st in Austin,” Gonzalez said.
If you’re far from Austin at the moment, you may need to make your own ice. For home ice-making, Ruiz favors Wintersmiths ice molds, which start at $40. They’re engineered for directional freezing, a process that pushes air bubbles and impurities through a hole at the bottom of the tray. Experts swear by the result — clear ice cubes that melt more slowly and don’t dilute your drink.
A solid blender
A Margaritaville machine (seriously)
And of course, glasses to drink from
Ikea/Crate and Barrel